Johnstown not applying

JOHNSTOWN – A city consultant informed the Common Council this week about the availability of new state downtown revitalization funding, but he discouraged the city from getting involved.

Consultant and grant writer Nicholas Zabawsky told the council he’s recommending Johnstown not apply for the program.

“It’s a very large-scale project,” Zabawsky said. “It’s a downtown thing. Johnstown would have to have $60 million worth of projects downtown.”

The funding would involve several criteria. Zabawsky said it is designed to improve the quality of life of a city’s downtown. It would pay for improvements, housing upgrades and commercial development.

Zabawsky said the municipality chosen for the money would need staff.

He said Johnstown just went through a Main Street Revitalization Program, but this new program increases that activity “100-fold.”

He said the city would have to hire a “seasoned” developer for about $100,000 per year, and that person would need an assistant.

He isn’t recommending the city pursue the program.

“I try to be respectful of the local taxpayers,” Zabawsky said. “I don’t think this is a good fit in downtown Johnstown.”

Third Ward Councilman Helen Martin said she agreed with Zabawsky, but the city needs to continue to try to stimulate its downtown economy.

Councilman-at-Large Christopher Swatt said he’s “disappointed” the funding couldn’t involve several local communities, or even all of Fulton County.

“The state’s very clear – one city [in the region],” Zabawsky said.

Martin added, “The state has distinct parameters that have to be met.”

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